Whether you choose to print your own photographs at home or work with a digital lab to produce prints for you, printmaking can be extremely gratifying. And if you're building a business in photography, whether taking portraits in your community or trying to land commercial work, the fine-art print is essential to your business. Indeed, it's your ultimate product.
MAKING YOUR OWN PRINTSFor the most control over your prints, you'll want to invest in a pro-grade photo printer, like Epson's Stylus Photo R3000, which can make cut-sheet prints up to 13x19 inches and roll-paper prints up to 13x44 inches. The R3000 uses Epson's 9-color UltraChrome K3 ink set, which is pigment-based for enhanced longevity, resulting in prints that will last many decades and potentially more than 100 years without fading, depending on the type of paper used and how the print is mounted and displayed. The printer also automatically switches between Photo Black or Matte Black inks for optimum density on both traditional glossy and fine-art papers.
In addition to having total control over the look of your print and paper selection, another advantage of printing at home is immediacy. You can finish a portrait sitting in the morning and have prints available for pickup later in the afternoon.
WORKING WITH A DIGITAL LABIf you want to make prints in large volumes or prefer to work with a partner whose expertise is producing top-quality photographs, consider using a digital lab. Not only do these services save you time, they typically offer a variety of specialty products that would be difficult to make yourself.
For example, Bay Photo's MetalPrints (bayphoto.com) are photographs actually infused into specially coated aluminum sheets. These extremely durable prints make a unique statement and can be cut into over 20 different shapes in addition to a standard rectangle. Another service professional labs can provide is custom finishing with mats and frames. WhiteWall (us.whitewall.com) offers over 100 different frame types and colors to match any home's style. These products are an opportunity for you to provide a complete package of ready-to-hang photographs to your clients with minimal extra effort on your part.
Some labs even offer retouching services for photographers whose Photoshop skills aren't as polished as their camera work. Bay Photo offers corrections like fixing glare on eyeglasses or removing stray hairs as à la carte options that you can select when you upload your images for printing.